Four years ago I wrote two uncharacteristic posts on grief. Now we have cause for relief and hope, so I want to talk a little about recovery. For four years, at the best, we’ve been fearful and tensed against destructive or disastrous news. Some of us lived through the destruction and disaster more closely than I did; hundreds of thousands of people did not live through it. Ecosystems and animals suffered greatly. Now that one energetic and cruel cause of destruction has been ousted, recovery can start. I want to warn that it will not be smooth.
I have two predictions. First, as your body stops bracing against the immediate threat, you will likely collapse or get sick. Second, that you will continue to feel better in jumps for a long time, and that each time, you will marvel at how bad you felt before.
Now that it is safe(r), you may collapse.
For four years, you have been braced against malignance to you and those you love. The cost of this vigilance and struggle will come due. As your body starts to relax, you may overshoot and collapse. Your immune system may let in illness (hopefully not COVID). If that happens, surrender and rest. Your body needs it. It is similar to getting sick after finals or when you get back from traveling.
Feeling better happens in surprising jumps.
My experience was that I consistently thought I was better, then had a sudden noticeable jump in well-being (more relaxed or more energetic or more capable of interest), then realized in retrospect how weak and fatigued I had been before. This happened sporadically for two or three years and each time I revised downward how bad I must have been at the depth. The climb out of the collective trauma of these last years could also take months or years.
Just like I did for grief, I suggest rest and patience with yourself. You do not need to feel relief or better yet. Don’t be surprised if you feel even worse for a short spell. Still, a terrible stressor has been removed from our lives. I think you will intermittently notice yourself feeling better. Let’s have a lovely spring, and keep the pressure on the Biden administration to do right.